11th hour deal in California
- California public utility Imperial Irrigation District has reached a deal with the solar industry to extend net metering deals to between 1,200 and 1,300 customers, months after announcing it would not be taking new subscriptions, the Desert Sun reports.
- Earlier this year, IID said it had reached a cap on the program, put in place by the state legislature, which limited net metering to 5% of its peak electricity demand, leaving more than a thousand customers in limbo with their solar arrays.
- In a letter from IID District General Manager Kevin Kelley to state Senator Ben Hueso (D), the utility said it would extend net metering to customers who requested interconnection before April 1, and other sets of customers who had already taken steps to install panels.
Despite the decision by California regulators to preserve the current net metering rates until 2019 for investor-owned utilities, a public utility is caught in a debate over rooftop solar similar to those occurring in Arizona and Nevada.
The solar industry was trying to push a bill through the California legislature to extend IID's net metering program. But as the end of the session loomed, the utility agreed to reach a deal to allow more customers into the program.
The Desert Sun obtained a copy of IID's letter which explained the three sets of customers which will still be granted net metering deals: those who requested interconnection before April; those who applied for solar rebates by Feb. 5; and anyone who paid for a building permit before April 1.
According to the newspaper, those groups include more than 1,000 customers who previously would have been locked out of the program. The legislation which the solar industry supported would have allowed even more customers into the program, but the utility's compromise reaches more than 80% of customers who had been in the process of installing solar when IID hit the cap.
IID has previously had run-ins with solar advocates. In 2014, the utility reduced its incentives for small solar systems from $1.55/watt to $0.50/watt, prompting one installer to label the initiative the "worst solar rebate program on God's green earth."